Advice and Strategies

ICDA’s Five Steps of Proactive Career Development – Step 2

Posted by on Mar 15, 2016 in Career Information, Conscious Choices, Proactive Career Development, Refocus, Research, Resources | 0 comments

ICDA’s Five Steps of Proactive Career Development – Step 2


ICDA’s Five Steps of Proactive Career Development – Step 2. Gather and maintain current, accurate and comprehensive information about your chosen field.

This is the third in my series of blog posts on the Illinois Career Development Association (ICDA)   Five Steps of Proactive Career Development  as previously published on the My College Planning Team web site, with a few changes and additions.

Information !  INFORMATION !!   I N F O R M A T I O N !!!  Have you ever been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information you’ve gathered on a subject and at the same time still felt the need to gather more?  Have you come close to throwing your hands up in the air and screaming,   “STOP, NO MORE!” ? Does this, in any way, describe how you feel about all the information you might be feeling compelled to gather if you are in the middle of or considering a career transition? If so, please know that you are not alone.

Where the world is changing so quickly, it’s critical for each of us to keep current in our field of choice or run the risk of being left behind.  Not only is it also critical for you to develop the skills necessary to efficiently  gather and sort through information about your lifework choices.  Skills you will need and want to continuously apply throughout the rest of your work life. They are skills that will help you to stay on top of what’s going on in your field so that you can always be competent, competitive and satisfied for the opportunity to confidently contribute your best.

So, with all that information available ‘out there’, it’s important to be aware of what the BEST sources are for gathering the most current, accurate and comprehensive information needed. Here are just a few of the most popular sources of career information.

O * Net   is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, contains descriptions of over 900 occupations and is organized around SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) codes.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook  is published by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Where the occupational categories may be seen as being more broad than those in O*Net, there is greater depth to the career information provided.  In fact, on the Occupation Finder page of this site you can conduct a career search based on government data available in the filter categories of Entry Level Education, On-The-Job-Training, Projected Level of New Jobs, Projected Growth Rate and 2014 Median Pay.

The Riley Guide  describes itself as “The Web’s premier gateway for job search, career exploration and school information, since 1994” and is viewed by many career development professionals as an excellent source of career information.

Illinois workNet is the “online source for local and statewide resources and tools to help individuals, employers and workforce/education partners achieve their training and employment goals.”

The National Career Development Association (NCDA) has a wide variety of resources under their heading of Internet Sites for Career Planning .  This site includes, with permission from the authors, more than a dozen links from the book The Internet: A Tool for Career Planning (Third Edition, 2011). This list of links include, just to name a few; a Directory of Online Employment Information,  Occupational Trends, Apprenticeships and Other Alternative Training Opportunities,  Resources for Diverse Audiences, Resources and Services for Ex-Offenders, Resources and Services for Youth, Teen and Young Adults, Resources and Services the Older Client, Disabilities, Military.

And, my own state professional association, the Illinois Career Development Association(ICDA)website has an  ICDA Career Resources  page that includes links to resources under the headings of;  Job Search Websites – General, Job Search Sites – Industry Specific, Career Blogs, Occupations Research, Job Search Assistance, Networking Opportunities, Industry and Trends, Special Needs, Volunteering, Skills Development, Advocacy, Professional Organizations, and College or University Career Centers. Where we are always looking to make our resources page more comprehensive, please feel free to make suggestions about resources you would like to see us add to our list by reaching out to us through the Contact Us link on the ICDA website.

And, lastly, you might want to consider that potentially the most valuable source of information about the career(s) you want to research which is people who actually DO the work that you aspire to do. Conducting your own information interviews could be one of the most energizing and rewarding parts of your career search.  Please, DO consider giving this a try.

So, here’s hoping that this blog post has given you some new ideas for where you might gather some of that all-important quality INFORMATION that will help round out your career research and maximize the likelihood that your next move will be to a best fit career and lifework.

Welcoming our first guest blogger, Laura Kendall Zimmerman!

Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Change, Conscious Choices, Encouragement, Facing change, Fear of change, Focus, Growth, Overcoming, Proactive Career Development, Re-evaluate, Refocus, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Welcoming our first guest blogger, Laura Kendall Zimmerman!

Choosing to embark on a new career path is a difficult decision that can be confusing and frightening. I know; I’ve done it several times now. After graduating from college, I spent years bouncing around varying fields that interested me, never landing anywhere that made me feel happy or fulfilled. Luckily, I found Career Path when I was considering my fourth career change, and finally realizing that I needed help identifying what I really wanted. I was afraid of picking yet another occupation that didn’t suit my skills or interests. I recognized that I needed to approach my next career change differently, but was overwhelmed with the seemingly endless possibilities. I felt both helpless and hopeless. It was as though I were lost in the woods; I knew that I was in the wrong place but was unwilling to move for fear I would merely end up deeper in the forest.

Finally, I became frustrated and desperate enough to call for help. I didn’t know what to expect from a career counselor, and was hesitant to get my hopes up. I didn’t understand what a stranger could tell me about my interests and skills that I didn’t already know. What I quickly found, though, was that my counselor wasn’t interested in telling me anything. Her process was to help me discover new things about myself through careful analysis of my personality. Rather than focusing on what field I wanted to be in, for the first time I was focusing on what work environments I could thrive in. I learned that while some people work best in a highly structured environment with detailed direction, I instead need a flexible environment in which I am free to get the work done in my own way. I began to see that although some people are highly motivated by the opportunity to make more money, others seek jobs that allow them to meet a wide variety of people or stimulate their sense of adventure, and I can only be happy in a situation where the work I do aligns closely with my own values. Counseling helped me envision what my ideal workday would look like, and then helped me find a way to apply that routine to something I love.

This, to me, is the part of choosing a career path that is most important, and also most often neglected by those of us who are in unhappy work situations. The field we choose and the work we do are secondary to the style of work we enjoy. Each of us is unique, and each of us prefers working in a certain way. Going against that preference can exhaust us and make us miserable, no matter how much we love the end results of our work.

What is most integral to the joy I’ve found in my new career as a freelance editor isn’t that I get to indulge my love of reading. It’s that I get to be my own boss, working with clients and projects I pick, in a quiet, solitary environment. My new career is just taking off, and now that I’ve finally taken the first steps away from my spot in the woods, I’m starting to see more light between the trees. I know that this time, I really am headed in the right direction. Getting career counseling wasn’t like finding a sign to point me down a certain path, a map neatly highlighting my possible routes, or even a tour guide to walk me out of the woods. Instead, going through the counseling process was like taking a course in outdoor survival skills; it gave me the tools and confidence I needed to choose my own route out of the woods.

Laura Kendall Zimmermann is an editor and owner of LKZ Publishing Services

Don’t Guess. Assess. OR Putting Assessments Under the Magnifying Glass

Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Career Assessment, Career Information, Interest Assessments, Personality Assessments, Re-evaluate | 0 comments

Don’t Guess. Assess. OR Putting Assessments Under the Magnifying Glass

Before moving on to Step 2 of the Illinois Career Development Association’s Five Steps of Proactive Career Development, I’d like to devote a bit of space to addressing the actual process of taking the interest and personality assessments I referenced in Step 1. And yes, I see the taking of these assessments to be a process as opposed to an isolated task of answering questions with the first thought that pops into your head.

Why is that, you might be wondering, as the latter is the way you’ve always thought of personality ‘tests’ and/or the way you’ve been coached to take them, either online, in a self-help book, or by someone administering them at work. Well, the “first thing that pops into your mind” approach might work if you’ve already maximized the self-actualization stage of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; meaning that you’re doing work that exactly matches who you are all the hours of your work day and you don’t have any fears, conscious or unconscious, that could possibly get in the way of your acting consistently with your true and authentic self, twenty-four hours of every day. And yet, in truth, how often is it that any of us are fortunate enough to say these scenarios are consistently our experience?

If you do not feel fully self-actualized, then isn’t it possible the answers that “pop” into your head when taking these assessments may not represent your best self and the personality traits on which you want to base future actions and decisions? Instead, they will likely end up representing results that simply mirror or duplicate the not-so-well-suited job description you’re trying to put behind you. They may even reflect some other scenario in which you behaved so as to avoid someone becoming upset with you, rocking the “we’ve always done it that way” boat, or, worse yet, losing your job (a job to which you might not be particularly well suited or even want to do any more). In other words, your results might duplicate a “bad” situation you are trying to escape as opposed to providing you with a true vision of your best self and preventing you from making choices to allow for and promote your growth.

So, if any of the latter scenarios resonate with you, would you want to trust just any old thought that pops into your head to be used as a frame of reference the next time you take a personality or interest assessment? I’m hoping you wouldn’t. Instead, please consider placing at the forefront of your mind scenarios from your life that represent situations where you were operating as your best self in circumstances to which you were optimally well-suited and in a mode to THRIVE, rather than simply SURVIVE the situation at hand. If you can maintain that mindset, you will be much more likely to achieve a result that will come much closer to representing your true, natural, and innate self, providing you with information which is far more likely to be accurate on which to base future decisions.

And even then, please be aware that in spite of your best efforts to keep those best-fit scenarios in your test-taking mind, an assessment CAN still end up reflecting more what you have done than who you are and that this can happen to anyone at any time they are trying to answer these types of questions. This is why, in my use of assessments in my work as a career counselor, it is not the paper and pencil result of the assessments that I rely on so much as the time spent working with my client to settle on a “best fit” interest or personality type. I routinely share the basics of the theories and models on which the assessments I use are based in hopes that my clients will be able to recognize for themselves the possible negative influences past experiences and/or fears can have on their results and adjust their perception of what the assessments are telling them about who they are.

It is my hope that you will never be too quick to accept the result of those assessments you take online, or as a requirement of your employment, at face value. Please resist the temptation to jump to premature conclusions and/or label yourself, or anyone else with whom you’re sharing the ‘let’s take this online personality test’ experience, and proceed to treat yourself or others based on potentially erroneous results. Do consider seeking the help of someone trained in interpretation and validation of the assessments you’ve taken before you settle on a result, especially if you plan to base future life-impacting decisions on those results. And lastly, it is ultimately up to you alone to determine what is true about and for you. With these things in mind, I wish you happy and rewarding assessing.

ICDA’s Five Steps of Proactive Career Development – Step 1

Posted by on Nov 28, 2014 in Career Assessment, Conscious Choices, Generic and Transferable Skills, Interest Assessments, Personality Assessments, Proactive Career Development, Re-evaluate, Values Clarification | 0 comments

ICDA’s Five Steps of Proactive Career Development – Step 1


To continue on with the subject of proactive career development, let’s focus on the first step of the Illinois Career Development Association’s Five Steps of Proactive Career Development introduced in my last blog.

Step 1. Assess your interests, personality type, transferable skills and values.

This step is, indeed, both the best place to begin and return to any time there is a major change in your life, especially any time you find yourself at another career decision-making fork in the road.  The following types of assessments can help you gather the most current and complete information about YOU and help you to make the “best fit” career choices throughout your lifetime.


Is your first reaction to the thought of taking an interest assessment something like, ‘Oh, I took one of those back in high school and it told me I’d be a good ___, and I didn’t want to do that so …’ or ‘I know what I’m interested in so I don’t need to take an interest test”?  If so, consider this. Are you aware that being interested in certain subject matter may be a world apart from being interested in the doing of the tasks that go along with the actual work done in that field in which you are interested?  I’ve worked with many people over many years who thought they would like a certain field because they were, once upon a time, interested in studying the corresponding subject matter, only to find that they did NOT actually enjoy the DOING of the work that their degree prepared them for. Sad, isn’t it? So, to minimize the likelihood of that happening to you, please DO consider taking an interest assessment with the idea of exploring the potential for your enjoying the DOING of a particular type of work as much if not more so than assessing the subject matter in which you might be interested.

Personality Type

Personality assessments can identify career options that are suited to someone who thinks, solves problems, communicates, and makes decisions in the same way as you. So when you take this type of assessment it is really important that you’re answering the questions as your best and most natural self, being true to who you are. You’ll want to reference positive situations from your own life experiences where you felt fulfilled and energized.  If you maintain this mindset while taking a personality assessment the chances are you’ll get better results for identifying the types of work to which you might be well suited.

Generic and transferable skills

Hopefully you are always learning new things.  Taking stock of what you can do AND enjoy doing at any given point in your life ought to be an ongoing process.   The sum total of your best skills and competencies WILL hopefully grow throughout your lifework experience.  And, you may even find that how you prioritize which skills you want to add and/or develop may change at any time depending on your experiences. So, where you need to identify and assess your current skills for your resume or job applications, you really ought to re-evaluate them regularly for your ongoing career development even in your current position.  Otherwise how are you going to know if or when it’s time to consider looking within your current work situation or even elsewhere for places to either learn new skills you’d like to acquire or apply new skills you’ve been developing.


Surely, your values are subjective and are likely to change as you meet new people and have new experiences.  Know that what you think and feel about yourself, the world and your place in it IS important. YOUR thoughts and feelings ARE valid and will likely have a major impact on the degree of satisfaction and ‘fit’ between you and the work you do and the environment in which you do it. So, check in with yourself from time to time to see how your values may have changed. In fact, your work experiences over the years may have changed how you look at things and that change in perspective can result in a change in your values which WILL, in turn, impact your lifework decisions going forward.

Well, there you have it, a major list of things to assess now and throughout your lifetime. So, after all this, the big POINT here IS, before making any major decisions, KNOW THYSELF!!! And, happy assessing!!

Proactive or Reactive: Which Word Describes Your Approach to Career Development?

Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Career Assessment, Career Information, Conscious Choices, Focus, Mission, Proactive Career Development | 0 comments

Proactive or Reactive:  Which Word Describes Your Approach to Career Development?

When you make career related decisions do you view them more with an eye on the immediate or find yourself viewing the decisions at hand as they relate to a larger lifework perspective?  As a career counselor I encourage my clients to look beyond any current career decision fork in the road to consider the impact of their immediate choice not only on the situation at hand but on a total lifework experience or the body of work that will be produced over their lifetime. (more…)

What I learned from the Olympics.

Posted by on Mar 23, 2014 in Commitment, Encouragement, Overcoming, Refocus | 0 comments

What I learned from the Olympics.

Whether any given athlete fell during a downhill race, tripped over their skates, wiped out in the halfpipe or had a slow start to their bobsled run all the athletes have one thing in common. They continue perfecting their skills so as to be ready for the next time they have the chance to use them. (more…)

Change … Like it or not, it’s here to stay! (Ha Ha … Get it?)

Posted by on Feb 23, 2014 in Change, Facing change, Fear of change, Growth, Overcoming | 0 comments

Change … Like it or not, it’s here to stay! (Ha Ha … Get it?)

Yep, change IS here to stay, and what’s more, it’s normal. Expect it. Embrace it. Learn to appreciate that it affords you the opportunity to … start over, hit the reset button, try something new, get unstuck, or put a new plan into action. Change can also help you to take the best of the “before-change you” into the future and leave the rest behind with a loving pat (more…)